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May 14, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:01 PM)

Hey everybody, I'm heading down to the big Phils-Astros game tonight. Looking forward to seeing Jose Altuve. He's the Tim Kurkjian of MLB second basemen. Let's start the chat.

Adam (Toronto)

Can the Braves sustain their offensive production? Always figured they were better than the numbers suggested last year, but they've far exceeded expectations this year.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:02 PM)

Adam, I think so, provided they stay healthy. As I mentioned the other day, they're doing this and Brian McCann hasn't really gotten hot yet. From what I'm hearing, new hitting coach Greg Walker has been a great influence on Jason Heyward.

James (Dallas)

Is there any reason why pitchers still think it's a good idea to throw Hamilton strikes?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:03 PM)

James, Here's the funny part: I just checked Fangraphs.com, and Josh Hamilton is swinging at 45.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Only Clint Barmes has been less selective. So it doesn't really matter if opponents throw him strikes. He can drive balls over the fence regardless of where they're pitched.

Dan (Boston)

What kind of trade market could be out there for either Kevin Youkilis or Josh Beckett? Cherington needs to clean house.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:05 PM)

Dan, I think there will be a pretty good trade market for Youkilis, because a lot of teams can use a veteran RH bat with some power. Beckett is a tougher sell, because of the size of his contract and all the junk swirling around him. Either way, I think we're looking at mid to late June before things start percolating with either of those guys.

David (Va Beach)

Is LaHair a true trade commodity or will teams be scared to give up much for him? At what point does he become a real asset for the Cubs in the trade market?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:06 PM)

David, I'm not sure why you'd want to trade him. He ranks among the NL leaders in a bunch of categories and he doesn't cost anything. Obviously, you'd rather move Soriano and see if LaHair can play LF to make room for Rizzo. That makes more sense to me.

Stephen (Rancho Mirage, CA)

Should I buy into this..."the Reading Phillies have enough quality prospects to supplement a team"? I was under the impression that the Phillies' farm system was among the weakest...a few pitching prospects, but no legit position player prospects.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:07 PM)

Stephen, I'm not sure who's saying that. But if the Phillies have one of the biggest payrolls in the game and they're looking for their Double A Reading affiliate to bail them out, they have even more problems than everybody realizes.

Knish (NYC)

Jerry- Who are some of your current favorite MLB Radio voices?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:09 PM)

Knish, Wow, there are a lot. I still enjoy listening to Vin Scully, obviously. I get the MLB package, and I think the Mets guys are very good. I also enjoy Krukow and Kuiper in SF and Orsillo and Remy with Boston. I'm sure I'm missing a ton of people, but those are a few combos off the top of my head.

Alex (Chicago)

Do you think Samardzija's emergence is for real?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:10 PM)

Alex, Hey, the raw material is there. I saw him in his last start and he was throwing 97 mph without trying. We'll see how he fares the second and third time through the league as a starter. But yeah, I think he's for real.

Tyler (Seattle)

Jerry, what's a realistic expectation for Justin Smoak... I am worried about the M's long-term outlook at 1B and getting that offense going

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:12 PM)

Tyler, A lot of people are down on Justin Smoak these days, it seems. The kid was probably rushed, and it's tough dealing with such big expectations at a young age. I checked out the USS Mariner site the other day, and they talked about his trouble hitting breaking stuff and catching up to the really hard stuff. That's not a great combination. I think it's too early to give up on him. But he might be like a Matt LaPorta. A lot of waiting to see if and when it will ever come together.

AleX (England)

Hi Jerry, im a nationals fan, with all our injuries I dont think we can win the division, do you think we can win a wildcard? we have been extremely unlucky

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:14 PM)

Alex, Sure, I think the Nats have a shot at a playoff spot. The Phillies aren't nearly as good as they have been, and when you look around the rest of the league, there are a lot of mediocre clubs. Don't forget -- they have some pitching depth in Lannan and Wang if the starters fall off. So I think they'll hang around all season.

Jesse (MN)

Do the Twins have any current roster talent that could bring back some good, young starting pitching in a trade?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:16 PM)

Jesse, Maybe a guy like Denard Span, because teams are always looking for fast center fielders who can get on base. But then you're just creating another hole, so what's the point? The Twins need to start doing a better job of developing their starting pitching from within.

mk (albuquerque)

re: soriano and lahair....i gotta disagree for three reasons....1 no one is taking soriano......2: lahair is not the future first baseman for the cubs. that's rizzo. 3: lahair's value will never be higher. the only thing that gives him significant trade value even now is that he is in the midst of a serious hot streak, and so someone needing a firstbasemen for a playoff drive might be interested. the dude is 29. no one thinks he's gonna be a cornerstone player for the next 5 yrs.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:18 PM)

MK, That may be so, but the dude hit 55 homers last year between Triple A, the Cubs and Venezuela. I'm not saying he's going to be the next Jose Bautista or Jayson Werth, but there's something to be said for being a "late bloomer." And as for trade value, what do you think they're going to get in return that's going to be better than LaHair?

Jason (Nashville, TN)

Jerry,The Braves are known for locking up their young talent. How long before they cement Heyward and Freeman as the new foundation of the franchise?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:19 PM)

Jason, I think they have to worry about Brian McCann before they start thinking about Heyward and Freeman. They have a little time to burn with those guys.

cp (reno)

It seems to me that Carlos Lee would be a perfect fit for the Dodgers...??

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:21 PM)

CP, At first base, right? I don't know. At this stage of Carlos Lee's career I have a hard time seeing him being a salvation for any club. Nothing against the guy, but he is what he is.

Adam (Toronto)

I believe last week a question was asked if STL is the class of the NL right now. Ask them if they feel that way after this weekend when they were lit up by the Braves

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:22 PM)

Adam, The Cardinals are still pretty good, although some of the starters have probably performed over their heads in the early going.

Mike (NJ)

Think the Mets will be in some sort of race for a playoff spot come July/August?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:23 PM)

Mike, I think the lack of depth is going to catch up to them eventually. For example, the starting rotation is 25th in the majors in IP. Unless the starters go deeper in games, it's going to put more pressure on that bullpen, which has already had some issues. Terry Collins has done a great job, but I still think they're a .500 team at best.

Joey (DC)

Nationals HAVE TO take H-Rod out of the closer role....sincerely NatsNation!

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:24 PM)

Joey, If Storen and Lidge hadn't gotten hurt, he wouldn't be in this spot to begin with. Sometimes teams have moves thrust upon them because of injuries. Obviously H-Rod is better as a seventh or eighth inning strikeout weapon.

Ben Housewright (Gray,TN)

Have you seen Daniel Norris play yet for the Blue Jays? He is from Johnson City,TN near where i live. Is he in the Minors?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:25 PM)

Ben, Baseball America lists Daniel Norris as the Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect. I believe he's going to pitch short-season ball this year -- which means he'll start playing next month.

Matt (Baltimore)

The Orioles are reaching the end of a brutal stretch against NY, Bos, Tex and TB and they and 8-5. You ready to buy into the magic yet, Jerry?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:27 PM)

Matt, I talked to a scout today who said, "They're not going away." I just don't see enough starting pitching to buy into the magic. But how many teams in the AL really have great rotations from 1 through 5? Boston, the Yankees, the Angels, the Tigers ... they've all struggled at times with starting pitching. That might help the O's hand around until the All-Star break. I still think they fade in the second half.

Alex (Anaheim)

Ibanez has exceeded my expectations so far. Can he hit 25 HR this season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:30 PM)

Alex, Ibanez hit 20 homers last year, and the park in NY is even more charitable than the Phillies' yard. I don't know if he's going to get enough ABs to hit 25 bombs. But he's given them just what they wanted for a very moderate investment. Great guy in the clubhouse, too.

Dave (Glen Ridge, NJ)

Do you believe in the Metropolitans yet? Every guy that comes up from the minors seems to be producing, and the gents definitely play their hearts out for Collins game in & game out.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:31 PM)

Dave, I'm not sure how much I "believe" in them, if you're talking playoff spot. But what's not to like? They've responded to Terry Collins, they play hard every day, and they're getting a lot of mileage out of the farm system. Even if they finish, say, 82-80, doesn't this season have to be regarded as a raging success given all the negative developments there in recent years?

Tarek (NYC)

Orioles this year remind me of Cleveland and Pitt from last year. But Oriole fans should just enjoy the ride and hope to be in the race Aug 1st.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:32 PM)

Tarek, Yeah, I can buy that.

Ruben A. (Corner of Rock and Hard Place)

Should I just sit down with Mr. Hamels, pull out my check book and ask him what number to write in?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:33 PM)

Ruben, Not unless you're prepared to say yes when he asks for $125 million over 5 years. After the Matt Cain contract, that's probably what it's gonna take.

J. (Las Vegas)

Hi, Jerry. Money aside, is there a legitimate reason for the Angels to continue starting Vernon Wells? He's shown over a season-plus that he's not a quality player.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:36 PM)

J., Vernon Wells is a great guy, and it's not his fault that Toronto gave him the contract or the Angels elected to trade for him. But I hardly ever see him hit a ball hard anymore. Problem is, when you take on a commitment of that magnitude, more than talent goes into lineup decisions. So other than the $$, there aren't a lot of compelling reasons to see his name on the lineup card every day.

Paul (NJ)

Jerry, is the handling of Chris Sale final proof that it is time for Kenny Williams to move on?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:37 PM)

That one is a puzzler to me as well as you, Paul. As for Kenny Williams, I think the day will come pretty soon that he moves upstairs to a club president's job or something similar. He has a very close relationship with Jerry Reinsdorf, and they'll have to sit down at some point and decide if it's working and a change is in order.

Fred (Austin)

As a Dodger fan, I'm looking forward to this week. They should continue to fatten up with 4 games within the West, then the weekend against StL should tell a at least a little about what the team really is. What do you expect?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:39 PM)

Fred, Matt Kemp's health status is obviously a big issue right now. If he doesn't go on the DL and they have another productive week, they'll have to feel good about it. Chris Capuano might be the free agent signing of the year.

donny (Oakville)

Hi Jerry, Alot of people me included figured Brett Lawrie would have some trouble at 3B however he has not only been ok but he has thrived. Do you think that other teams will make the late position changes with other super athletic players. Not that it doesn't already happen.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:41 PM)

Donny, Lawrie seems like a guy who's going to make it work wherever you put him, because he has the toughness to will himself to be successful. As for position changes, there's a real art to that. Say all you will about stats, but it takes a good scout or talent evaluator to tell you a guy can make a successful shift from one position to another.

Jared (Arlington, Texas)

Do you see Hamilton making it to free agency or will the Rangers get something worked out? Or maybe a little bit of both meaning they retain him in free agency? I guess...how do you see this playing out?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:42 PM)

Jared, I've said all along that I think Hamilton will be back in Texas. The Rangers have as much $$ as everybody else, and I think when the time comes to make the call, Hamilton will realize there's no better fit for him than Arlington. As for when that will happen, I have no idea.

TD (PA)

Jerry, have you heard how Boston will handle Middlebrooks when Youkilis is healthy? Clearly Youkilis has to play if you would like to trade him. Is it more likely to send Middlebrooks down to AAA to get everyday at bats or will they play Youk some at 1B and DH when Gonzalez and Ortiz have days off and platoon at 3b?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:44 PM)

TD, I honestly can't say how this will play out. But in light of the damage Middlebrooks has inflicted since his arrival, I have a hard time seeing the Red Sox sending him back to Triple A. There might be a riot at Fenway if they do that.

fhgfgfdh (NC)

Looking back at the Yunel-Gonzalez trade, doesn't it seem Braves got the better end of it with Pastornicky matching Escobar and being cheaper?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:45 PM)

The Braves felt like they had to move Escobar because it wasn't working there. We'll see if Pastornicky can hit over the long run. It's only been a month.

cp (reno)

I get he is what he is but Lee is better then Loney and LA's offense isnt going to get any better

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:48 PM)

CP, Carlos Lee is about to turn 36 and he has a .714 OPS while playing in a park that's a lot more generous to hitters than Dodger Stadium. He hasn't had an OPS over .800 since 2009. And he's also a comedown defensively at 1B for a team that relies a lot on pitching to be successful. Plus, he makes a lot of $$. Other than that, he's probably a perfect fit.

Tarek (NYC)

More Insane Fans base, Redsox or Phils. Yankee fans may make crazy trade suggestions and Overate there players but the Sox and Phils want blood from there failing players.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:50 PM)

Tarek, Great question. I'm from New England, and frankly, I think Red Sox fans have gotten awfully spoiled in recent years. When that team has a bad two weeks, you'd think they haven't enjoyed success in decades. Philly fans are passionate, but they can also be very defensive and angry. I guess that's a byproduct of being the first franchise to reach 10,000 losses.

David (NY)

Pujols on a major slump with 1 HR on the season. Change of scenary/league? Pressure? What's your take on this? Do you think he'll ever bounce back by June at least?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:52 PM)

David, Everybody in the world has an answer. The declining walk rate scares me, because it makes you wonder if the bat speed hasn't slowed and he's pulling the trigger a lot more quickly. But the guy has been such a force for a decade, you still have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I still think he gets hot in the next month. If Albert hits .195 in the first year of his deal, it will make the Vernon Wells contract look like a huge bargain.

Matt (Twins Territory)

Jerry, Scott Diamond has gone 14 IP without allowing a run for the Twinkie-dinks. Did he change something over the offseason? Sure didn't see this during his handful of starts last year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:53 PM)

Matt, I wish I were more up to speed on Scott Diamond. All I know is that he's been lights-out his last two starts. Ask me this question in next week's chat and I'll try to come up with an intelligent answer (rather than faking it right now)

Ankur (WV)

Re: Pastornicky... While he's done well so far EVERYONE knows he's only a placeholder until Andrelton Simmons is ready for the big leagues.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:54 PM)

Ankur, Yes, that's true. But people don't know how well Simmons will hit, either. The kid sure can field, though. I only saw him once or twice in spring training, but I'm told he's incredible with the glove.

Silv (NY, NY)

Jerry, thanks for chatting - I always enjoy your take on the game. In response to your "ranking" (and I'm aware it was spur of the moment) of Boggs over Chipper last week, check out Boggs' non-Fenway OPS (.790) vs. Chipper's career road performance (.901). That's a pretty substantive split - any reconsideration?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:55 PM)

Silv, I just said that off the top of my head. Chipper obviously gives you more bang for the buck than Boggs does. They're both first ballot guys, so I'll leave it to the Bill Jameses to rank them for posterity.

cp (reno)

HAHA...thanks for putting me in my place. I guess the grass isnt always greener

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:56 PM)

CP, No problem. I didn't mean to sound caustic. But I think some perceived "solutions" aren't all their cracked up to be.

kyle (ky)

Do you think the Reds should try to acquire a third baseman with Rolen likely to not be the answer this year or let Frazier have the job. I just don't know how they can be a legit playoff team with 2 rookies holding down two main postions.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:58 PM)

Kyle, For what it's worth, Kevin Youkilis is from Cincinnati. I don't' see him being a fit there, though.

Silv (NY, NY)

Totally get that it was a guesstimate; just interesting how perception can sometimes be different. If it makes any difference, I've heard Boggs would be the #1 draft pick all time in beer drinking...

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:59 PM)

Silv, Boggs has all those batting titles and the 3,000 hits, which give him a certain cachet. But if you care about power and production (which most people do), Chipper zooms past him. Not sure about the beer part.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:59 PM)

Thanks for the questions, everybody. It was fun. Let's do it again next week.